(No) Exit

“Take a moment to look around you, bearing in mind that your nearest exit may be behind you”

So here we are then. About to Brexit. Nine months or so since the UK populace took to the polls and the Leavers squeezed past the Remainers, the House of Lords have passed the Government’s Brexit Bill.

The Triggering of Article 50  will happen this time next week.

So, what happen now? Er, not sure really. I don’t think anyone’s sure. No country has ever actually left the alliance before. It’s certainly not going to be a quick exit. Never mind getting Parliament to agree anything once Teresa May and David Davis have done their bit. Any changes will have to be agreed by all the other members first. How good a deal we get could well depend on how kindly Johnny Foreigner is viewing us at the time.

So far, the financial Armageddon that we were warned of has not come to pass. In fact, things seem to have been going rather nicely, leading some Leavers of my acquaintance to say ‘I told you so’. However, the skills shortage in this industry is as acute as ever. How much worse is it likely to get if hundreds or even thousands of construction workers from EU companies end up ‘going home’ (to borrow the rhetoric of the far right).

We ended up in this mess because David Cameron didn’t have the cojones to stand up to UKIP and his UKIP-leaning party members. We ended up with Mrs May as PM because Cameron then threw his toys out of the pram when the referendum, didn’t go his way. Mrs May has, in turn, shown that she, too, can throw a strop with the best of them when she sacked Lord Hesletine for going against the Government’s Brexit wishes.

There are other countries, currently still part of the EU, who will be watching what happens here with interest. If we get this right, the UK will probably only be the first in a number of countries to implement their own exit strategy. This could be the start of a systematic dismantling of the EU as we know it. Then, with luck, we might be able to rebuild something that works better for all parties involved. If we get it wrong though, we’re likely to be in the economic dog-house for some time to come.

Mr Davies – over to you. Try not to cock it up, there’s a good chap.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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